Re: POL: U.S. Tax Laws

Mighty Xerxes (
Fri, 23 Jul 1999 12:54:40 -0400

At 11:43 AM -0400 7/23/99, Alex Future Bokov wrote:

> In a narrow technical sense, he might be correct. Oddly enough, most of
> the US Fed Gov's influence is derived from Article I, Section 8 of the
> Constitution, which has a clause that reads:
> "[Congress has the power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,
> and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes"
> The reast of that section deals with infrastructure: raising armies and
> warfighting, militias, the post office, coinage, etc. Curiously, there is
> no mention of taxing the populace.
> So, unless you are interacting directly with the Fed as an employee or
> beneficiary of Federal $$$, a counterfeiter, or the member of an invading
> army, the Fed has only two excuses for interacting with you in any way
> whatsoever, including taxation.
> 1. Regulating interstate commerce.
> 2. Maintaining the armed forces.

Well, not exactly. You are correct that while the U.S. federal government is technically one of enumerated powers only, the American courts have invoked the Commerce Clause to grant Congress broad power to pass any number of laws on subjects not seemingly enumerated to the Federal government. Still, that is not really relevant on the issue of income taxation, as there is the matter of the Sixteenth Amendment, which does specifically enumerate the power to collect an income tax to the federal government:

"The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

That "from whatever source derived" language appears (to me) to remove any requirement that the taxable income be a product of interstate and/or federally-connected commercial activity. I imagine that this langugage is why the U.S. taxes its citizens on their _worldwide_ income, not just on what they make in the U.S. (A U.S. citizen is legally required to pay income taxes on the income generated in his or her Swiss and Cayman accounts -- of course, enforcement of the law is another matter).

As a matter of Constitutional interpretation (and though I may not like it), I see no need for the Congress to have limited the U.S. income tax as Mr. Lorrey described. The Congress is certainly free to have done so, however, so I'm asking for evidence that they have, such as a citation the U.S. tax code. Of course, a court may also have interpreted the Sixteenth Amendment more narrowly than I have above, and thereby limited the power of Congress, but I also remain skeptical of that, unless some evidence is presented.

As I said before, I would be happy to have my skepticism quashed by such evidence. But my personal experience with the nature of coercive governments leads me to believe that the likelihood that the U.S. government imposes such restrictions on its ability to tax its citizens is quite small.